Analysis of The matrix

Summary In "The Matrix," hacker Neo is awakened to the truth about the Matrix and his destiny as the One who can end the war and free humans from their captivity. With the guidance of Morpheus and Trinity, Neo undergoes combat training and enters the Matrix to save Morpheus from government captivity, battling Agents and sacrificing himself to destroy the sentinels and encourage change in the Matrix. The movie ends with Neo saying goodbye as he blasts off into the sky.

Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The overall story of the screenplay is compelling and engaging, with a strong blend of action, suspense, and philosophical themes. The introduction of the main characters, Trinity and Neo, is well-executed and piques the audience's curiosity about their pasts and their motivations. The action sequences, particularly Trinity's escape from the police and Agents, are thrilling and showcase the character's impressive skills. The exploration of the Matrix and its implications is thought-provoking and adds depth to the plot. The climax of the story, with Neo sacrificing himself to save his crewmates, is emotionally impactful and satisfying. However, there are a few areas that could be improved. The pacing of the screenplay could be tightened in some scenes, particularly during the training sequences, to maintain the overall momentum of the story. Additionally, some of the dialogue could benefit from more nuanced and naturalistic exchanges to enhance character development and emotional resonance. Finally, while the stakes of the story are high, there is room to further explore the motivations and inner conflicts of the secondary characters to deepen their impact on the audience. Overall, the screenplay offers a compelling narrative, filled with action, suspense, and philosophical themes. With some minor improvements, it has the potential to be a standout story in the screenwriting world.
  • Tighten the pacing in certain scenes to maintain the overall momentum of the story.
  • Enhance the dialogue to provide more nuanced and naturalistic exchanges.
  • Further explore the motivations and inner conflicts of the secondary characters to deepen their impact on the audience.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:


Cypher is a man who is disillusioned with the reality of his life and the war he's fighting. He is cold and calculating, willing to take extreme measures to achieve his goals. Manipulative and selfish, he is willing to betray his comrades for his own comfort and gain. He is resentful of the life he is forced to live in the Matrix and wants to return to it at any cost. He is bitter and disenchanted with the world around him.


Trinity is a skilled and resourceful fighter and hacker, deeply committed to the cause of overthrowing the Matrix. She is loyal to Morpheus and a strong ally of Neo who helps him acclimate to his new reality and trains him to fight. She is also romantically involved with Neo and deeply emotionally invested in his journey.

Agent Smith

Agent Smith is a ruthless and calculating agent of the Matrix, driven by a deep-seated hatred for the system and a strong desire to escape it. He is confident, efficient, and exudes a sense of power and danger. Smith is persuasive and intimidating, with a clear agenda in mind. He is willing to make deals to achieve his goals and is a formidable opponent for Neo and his team. Smith is a relentless and merciless pursuer who will stop at nothing to catch his targets.


Neo is a computer programmer struggling to find meaning in his monotonous life. He is initially introverted and analytical, hesitant, confused, but curious, rebellious, insecure, fearful, skeptical, but also curious and open-minded. He becomes determined and confident as he gains more knowledge and skills about the Matrix. He is brave, skilled, and willing to risk everything to save his friends and defeat the Agents. He's also vulnerable and shows humility.


Morpheus is a charismatic and wise leader who acts as a mentor and guide to Neo throughout the film. He is skilled in combat and commands respect. Morpheus is determined to find and train the One to end the war against the Matrix. His motives and past failures weigh heavily on him, but he is willing to take risks for a greater cause. He is also a father figure to Neo and deeply cares for him.


Tank is a dedicated and enthusiastic operator in Zion, one of the few remaining pure humans. He greatly respects Morpheus and is excited to work with Neo. Tank is quick-witted and a bit of a jokester, but remains dedicated to his role as an operator and helping the team succeed. He values loyalty and proves to be a valuable ally to the team.

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Cypher Cypher's arc is one of betrayal and disillusionment. At the beginning of the movie, he is a member of Morpheus' team, but ultimately betrays them due to his own selfish desires. He aligns with Agent Smith and plots to kill Neo. However, his plan ultimately fails and he dies in the Matrix. Throughout the movie, Cypher's bitterness and cynicism only grow, leading him down a path of treachery and hatred. Cypher's arc is well-developed and fits the character that is established early on. However, it would be beneficial to see more of the events that led to his disillusionment with the reality of his life. Additionally, his motivations for betraying his comrades could be more clearly developed.
To improve Cypher's arc, it would be beneficial to show flashbacks of his life before joining Morpheus' team. This would help to establish why he is so disgruntled with reality and why he desires a return to the Matrix. Additionally, further exploring his motivations for betraying his comrades could add more depth to his character and make his actions more understandable.
Trinity Initially portrayed as a mysterious and experienced operative, Trinity's character arc in the screenplay sees her evolve into a fierce and brave warrior who risks everything to protect those she cares about. Throughout the movie, Trinity supports Neo and helps him come to terms with his new reality, all while fighting alongside Morpheus to overthrow the Matrix. Despite suffering a betrayal and the loss of her mentor Morpheus, Trinity remains devoted to the cause, proving her loyalty and courage in the face of danger. Her love for Neo gives him the emotional strength he needs to triumph over Agent Smith. The character arc of Trinity is largely satisfying as her growth from a mysterious operative to a devoted fighter who risks everything for the cause is well-realized. However, at times it feels as though her sole purpose in the story is to support and bolster Neo's development, rather than allowing her to have her own personal journey. Additionally, while her romantic involvement with Neo is compelling, more could be done to flesh out her character beyond this relationship.
To improve Trinity's character arc, greater emphasis could be placed on her personal motivations beyond her love for Neo. For example, exploring her own personal reasons for joining the resistance or expanding on her backstory could help give her character more depth. Additionally, while her romantic connection with Neo is a significant part of her story, it could be balanced with other meaningful relationships and connections, to allow her character to shine beyond just her role as Neo's love interest.
Agent Smith Throughout the movie, Agent Smith is driven by his hatred for the Matrix and his desire to escape it. He starts off as a determined and ruthless agent tasked to find Morpheus and the One. However, as he interacts more with Neo and starts to see the flaws of the Matrix, his desire to escape grows stronger. He is willing to make a deal with Cypher to obtain the information he needs, and later joins forces with Neo to defeat the greater threat to both of them: the machines. By the end of the movie, Smith transforms from a relentless enemy to a co-conspirator with Neo against their mutual enemy. The character arc for Agent Smith is well-developed and nuanced, showing his transformation from a single-minded agent to a rebellious co-conspirator. However, the arc could have been clearer in its progression. The transition from Smith's desire to catch Neo to his desire to escape the Matrix could have been better explained, and his decision to team up with Neo felt somewhat abrupt and unearned. Additionally, Smith's final transformation into a co-conspirator felt a bit rushed and could have benefited from more development.
To improve the character arc, the movie could have shown more scenes of Smith experiencing doubt about the Matrix and its purpose. This doubt could have led him to question his own loyalty to the system and ultimately to join forces with Neo. Another suggestion would be to show a clearer progression of Smith's changing attitude towards Neo. Perhaps there could have been a scene where Smith saves Neo from danger, which could have been a turning point towards Smith's eventual collaboration with Neo. Overall, more development could enhance the character's transformation in a more organic way.
Neo Neo undergoes a significant character arc throughout the film, going from an office worker with no sense of purpose to a powerful fighter and ultimately sacrificing himself for the greater good. He transforms from a hesitant and insecure character to a confident and fearless leader. His journey involves self-discovery, growth, and acceptance of his role as the One. His transformation is highlighted by his newfound skills and abilities, such as bullet-time, and his willingness to risk everything to save his crewmates. The character arc of Neo is well-rounded and satisfying. However, there are some cliché elements, such as the reluctant hero and the prophecy trope. The character could benefit from more complexity and nuance, especially in his relationships with other characters. There's also a lack of clear motivations throughout the film, which could make his growth feel less impactful.
To improve the character arc of Neo, consider adding more depth and complexity to his relationships with other characters, such as Morpheus and Trinity. Explore his motivations and emotions more explicitly to make his growth feel more impactful. Avoid relying too heavily on tropes and clichés and find ways to surprise the audience with his choices. Additionally, consider exploring his doubts and vulnerabilities more explicitly to make his transformation feel more earned.
Morpheus Morpheus starts off as a mysterious figure who offers guidance to Neo. He believes in the prophecy of the One and puts all his faith in Neo's abilities. Throughout the film, he helps Neo overcome his fears and understand the true nature of the world he is in. He is willing to break rules to help Neo awaken to the truth and is captured by the agents as a result. Morpheus is abducted and experimented on, which reveals the stakes of the team's mission. He remains a mentor figure to Neo and is eventually rescued, but his sacrifice for the cause ultimately leads to Neo's success in ending the war against the Matrix. The character arc for Morpheus is well done, but it could benefit from more development throughout the film. Some of his actions and motives are not always clear, which can make it difficult for the audience to fully connect with his character. Additionally, his sacrifice feels somewhat rushed and could benefit from more build-up and emotional impact.
To improve the character arc for Morpheus, more focus could be placed on his past failures and the weight they carry on him. This would add more depth and complexity to his character. Additionally, clearer motivations and actions could be shown to make his character more relatable to the audience. Finally, more build-up and emotional impact could be added to his sacrifice to make it feel more impactful and meaningful.
Tank Throughout the movie, Tank grows from an eager and idealistic operator to a reliable and loyal member of the team. He begins the movie excited to work with Neo and admiring Morpheus's foresight in choosing him. As the movie progresses, we see Tank's dedication to his role as operator become more serious and determined. He puts his skills to the test when he intervenes to save Neo and Trinity from Cypher's attack, proving himself as an ally to the team. By the end of the movie, Tank has proven his loyalty to Morpheus and the rest of the team, solidifying his place as a valuable member of Zion. The character arc for Tank is solid, but may benefit from more development throughout the movie. While we see Tank's character change from eager to determined, we don't see much inner conflict or growth beyond that. Additionally, Tank could benefit from more screen time and development to make his character arc more impactful.
To improve Tank's character arc, it may be helpful to show more inner conflict and growth. Perhaps Tank realizes the consequences of his actions and becomes more cautious, or has to make a difficult decision that tests his loyalty to the team. Additionally, giving Tank more screen time and development could help make his character arc more meaningful and impactful.
Theme Theme Details Themee Explanation
DystopiaThe screenplay explores a dystopian future where humanity is controlled by machines and trapped in a simulated reality called the Matrix.The theme of dystopia is evident in the high-tech, futuristic setting, the oppressive control exerted by the machines, and the revelation of the truth about the Matrix.
Identity and Self-discoveryThe protagonist, Neo, grapples with questions of identity and must find his true self and purpose in a world filled with deception and illusion.The theme of identity and self-discovery is seen through Neo's journey from an unsure and complacent individual to the realization of his role as the One and his ultimate transformation.
Escape and FreedomThe characters strive to escape their captivity in the Matrix and seek freedom from the oppressive control of the machines.The theme of escape and freedom is present throughout the screenplay as the characters fight to break free from their enslavement and regain control of their lives.
Reality vs IllusionThe screenplay explores the blurred lines between reality and illusion, as the characters discover the truth about the Matrix and realize the extent of the deception surrounding them.The theme of reality vs illusion is prominent as the characters navigate through a simulated reality while seeking to uncover the truth and distinguish between what is real and what is fabricated.
Power and ControlThe screenplay explores the themes of power and control, with the machines exerting control over humanity in the Matrix, and the resistance fighting to regain their agency.The theme of power and control is evident in the oppressive rule of the machines, the struggle for power between the agents and the resistance, and the characters' quest to regain control over their own destinies.
Sacrifice and RedemptionThe characters make sacrifices and seek redemption in their fight against the machines and for the liberation of humanity.The theme of sacrifice and redemption is seen in the characters' willingness to risk their lives, make tough choices, and put the greater good above their personal desires to achieve freedom and save others.
The Nature of Reality and PerceptionThe screenplay questions the nature of reality and the limitations of human perception, as characters explore the truth about the Matrix and grapple with its implications.The theme of the nature of reality and perception is explored through the characters' realization that the world they knew was an illusion and their subsequent struggle to understand the true nature of their existence.
Technology and its EffectsThe screenplay examines the role of technology in society and the potential dangers and consequences of its unchecked advancement.The theme of technology and its effects is present in the futuristic setting, the control exerted by the machines, and the ethical implications of the Matrix and its impact on humanity.
Resistance and RebellionThe characters form a resistance against the machines and engage in acts of rebellion in their quest for freedom and the liberation of humanity.The theme of resistance and rebellion is evident as the characters challenge the status quo, defy the control of the machines, and fight back against their oppressors.
Destiny and FateThe screenplay explores the concepts of destiny and fate, with Neo being identified as the chosen one destined to bring about change and fulfill a specific purpose.The theme of destiny and fate is seen through Neo's journey as the One, his acceptance of his role, and his ultimate fulfillment of his prophesied destiny.

Screenwriting Resources on Themes


Site Description
Studio Binder Movie Themes: Examples of Common Themes for Screenwriters
Coverfly Improving your Screenplay's theme
John August Writing from Theme

YouTube Videos

Title Description
Story, Plot, Genre, Theme - Screenwriting Basics Screenwriting basics - beginner video
What is theme Discussion on ways to layer theme into a screenplay.
Thematic Mistakes You're Making in Your Script Common Theme mistakes and Philosophical Conflicts
Goals and Philosophical Conflict
internal Goals The protagonist's internal goals evolve throughout the script, starting with a desire to survive and understand his computer's strange behavior. As he learns more about the Matrix and his role in the resistance, his internal goals shift to finding his true identity, accepting his destiny as the One, and understanding the truth about the world he lives in.
External Goals The protagonist's external goals also evolve throughout the script, starting with a goal to escape the agents and contact Morpheus. His external goals then progress to include saving Morpheus, defeating the agents, and ultimately freeing humanity from the control of the Matrix.
Philosophical Conflict The overarching philosophical conflict in the screenplay is the battle between control and freedom, as represented by the agents and the resistance. This conflict intertwines with the protagonist's journey as he questions the nature of reality, fights for his own agency, and ultimately embraces his destiny as the One.

Character Development Contribution: The evolving internal goals contribute to the character's development by showcasing his growth from a skeptical and curious individual to a chosen savior who embraces his own power and destiny. Through his journey, he gains a deeper understanding of himself, the world, and the power of choice and individuality.

Narrative Structure Contribution: The evolving internal and external goals contribute to the narrative structure by providing a clear arc and progression for the protagonist. These goals create tension and drive the story forward, building suspense and anticipation as the character navigates a dangerous and unfamiliar world.

Thematic Depth Contribution: The goals and conflict contribute to the thematic depth of the screenplay by exploring deep philosophical questions about the nature of reality, the power of choice, and the struggle between control and freedom. The protagonist's journey and ultimate triumph over the agents and the Matrix reflect themes of self-discovery, empowerment, and the fight against oppression.

Screenwriting Resources on Goals and Philosophical Conflict


Site Description
Creative Screenwriting How Important Is A Character’s Goal?
Studio Binder What is Conflict in a Story? A Quick Reminder of the Purpose of Conflict

YouTube Videos

Title Description
How I Build a Story's Philosophical Conflict How do you build philosophical conflict into your story? Where do you start? And how do you develop it into your characters and their external actions. Today I’m going to break this all down and make it fully clear in this episode.
Endings: The Good, the Bad, and the Insanely Great By Michael Arndt: I put this lecture together in 2006, when I started work at Pixar on Toy Story 3. It looks at how to write an "insanely great" ending, using Star Wars, The Graduate, and Little Miss Sunshine as examples. 90 minutes
Tips for Writing Effective Character Goals By Jessica Brody (Save the Cat!): Writing character goals is one of the most important jobs of any novelist. But are your character's goals...mushy?